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Wow, We’re Really Doing This!

The Awakened Life Project has been in the making for a long time. I’m not sure exactly how long but it started to come into our consciousness about 2 years ago. 8 months ago we found the land; 4 months ago we bought a big chunk of it, we started our blog and many friends have visited and supported what we are doing over time. So in practical terms the project has been well underway for quite a while! I think that’s why it was so surprising to me that it wasn’t until a 12 ton bulldozer showed up to put in a track & a couple of local friends came to help us burn the branches from the fire that I thought to myself, ‘Wow, we’re really doing this!”


It was a Monday at 8:30 am we met Joao and Elsa (one of the owners we bought the land from) at the quinta. They got there early and had already begun working. It was pouring down rain but they had still managed to get a fire started to burn the brush we needed to clear. We were happy to get the last remnants of the fire cleaned up and to prepare the hillside for planting new trees.

About 9am we heard a rumbling from down the valley and sure enough Joao (yet another Joao) and Pedro and a really big bulldozer showed up as scheduled. We had a lot of things we needed the bulldozer to do and we were a bit nervous on the effect it would have on the look and feel of the quinta.

Bulldozer and house.jpg

First we needed to put a track down to the first house we are renovating and it wasn’t clear if it would be possible. We didn’t have a lot of width and the incline was quite steep so it was bit dodgy from the beginning. Not only were we putting in a track but also we needed to dig out a space for the 10,000 liter water tank that will gravity feed all the buildings, as well as needing to dig out another space for a car turn-around, and yet another space for our bathroom and kitchen!! An idea that came at the last moment was to put in a terrace to the side of the house for a patio, greenhouse and a good sunny spot (in Zone 1) for some orange and lemon trees so we needed this done too!


Joao was recommended to us as the best digger in the area. Once he got there I could see that he was fearless and operated the bulldozer with precision and determination. Pedro hadn’t worked in the mountains as much and was less of a daredevil and sometimes looked at Joao as if he was a bit crazy. I have to admit that if I hadn’t been so completely confident in Joao’s expertise I would have thought he was a bit crazy too! We needed every bit of his nerve to accomplish what we needed to have done.

bulldozer from behind.jpg

Yikes – this is steep!

So as Joao and Pedro worked below the rest of us were working above the houses clearing and burning brush on the mountainside.

bulldozer house 3.jpg

Amazing how its greened up on the terraces since the fire!

Every time we’ve had Portuguese people help us on the land I’ve been amazed at how happy they are while they are doing really hard work. Working with Joao and Elsa was like this. There was so much joy coming from them as they worked and such a sense of family and communion as we worked together. Even in the pouring rain on a steep slope they didn’t hold back and I found myself inspired to keep up with them – well maybe not keep up with them but at least not look like some city slicker that didn’t have a clue about what she was doing! In fact I do have to admit this was my first conscious fire/burning experience. And another confession before I go on is that after the fire we had I was very nervous about purposefully starting another one, so when I woke up and it was raining I was a bit relieved. In the end I didn’t need to worry as Elsa and Joao knew what they were doing and were very conscious of safety.

After about 4 hours of slip sliding around and numerous attempts at trying to light another fire we surrendered that we needed to stop and try again on a dryer day. Even though we were wet and cold our spirits weren’t dampened and we ended up finishing clearing the hillside about a week later, which is great.

Meanwhile Pedro and Joao were moving A LOT of dirt.

bulldozer house pete.jpg

It was quite something to see the land transform. As I mentioned Pete and I were both a bit nervous about how these changes that we needed were going to affect the quinta so over the next 4 days we spent a lot of time watching what was being done.

Parking space & turnaround


After the first day I started to relax as the track didn’t leave the horrible scar I was expecting.

bulldozer house 2.jpg

In fact something surprising emerged. Because we didn’t have to destroy any existing slate terrace walls or any other existing structures it became clear that we were actually ‘extending’ the quinta, something new was being created without disturbing anything old. It turned out to be the perfect blend of old and new coming together to create something different that fully embraced both. I think this is the first time that I felt that we are not only reviving the old but we are bringing something new to this amazing place. I’ve always felt the presence of all those who have contributed to creating this extraordinary place but somehow I hadn’t seen myself as one of them! Now I see that we are not only caretakers of the old but are the conscious creators of what is to come.


This is where our bathroom will be!

By the end of the week everyone had gone and Pete and I stood looking at all that had been done. It’s hard to express but there was something very moving about having so many people on the project at one time working to help make it a reality. We’ve had friends come and help in the past but somehow this was different. I don’t know if it was because the Portuguese were there or because so many major structural things were put into motion, all I know is that ‘Wow this is really happening!’

From LA to a farm in Portugal…Diggin’ a carrot patch!


Stay tuned for updates as the water tank is built, the house renovation starts, we figure out our solar and water system. If you have any suggestions on any of these they are greatly appreciated!



One Comment

  1. Adriana says:

    Hello Cynthia!

    I found you guys through the reboot webpage.

    I have to thank you guys because i was reading your way of living and your joy in it and i feel full, i believe!

    I wish, very much, to work out my spiritual side and also to explore the new waves of living.

    Tell me, if you can, it was easy to decide, to start?

    What did you guys do with your old jobs and way of living?

    I am so excited with my new perception and the answers that are all the time showing me that there is so much to explore and learn….

    Cynthia, thank you, and maybe we see each other in teh reboot!

    Kisses and hugs full of joy and love*


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